While your typical brick-and-mortar store doesn’t have much to worry about when it comes to wastewater, dealing with toxic wastewater is a major issue for manufacturing plants, factories, machine shops, and industrial sites. Not only is releasing wastewater from these businesses bad for the environment, it can lead to costly penalties with government agencies and seriously tarnish your reputation.
It’s safe to say that most business owners don’t knowingly release toxic waste into the environment (contrary to all of the corporate bad-guys that Hollywood likes to villanize), so the issue typically comes down to simply not knowing better. Unfortunately, that’s not a valid excuse to organizations like the EPA that test and regulate wastewater treatment, so it’s on you to educate yourself and implement the right processes.
What’s in your wastewater?
In order to know how to treat your wastewater, it helps to know what’s actually inside it. Generally speaking, there are five main characteristics in industrial wastewater:
- BOD – Biological oxygen demand
- COD – Chemical oxygen demand
- FOG – Fats, oils & grease
- TKN / TN – Total Kjeldahl nitrogen
- TSS – Total suspended solids
There may be other contaminants in your wastewater that you’ll need to worry about, too, but generally speaking these five are the biggest issues. That said, you’ll want to complete a full system study in order to fully understand the exact contaminants you’re dealing with. Every situation is unique, and when it comes to polluting the environment, you definitely want this to be an exact science.
Wastewater regulation and compliance
Industrial wastewater is covered by a myriad of federal, state, and local laws, and falls under the purview of multiple regulatory agencies. While this fractured approach can be confusing, the good news is that partnering with a specialist like BioProcess H2O makes it easy to remain in compliance.
Instead of hyperfocusing on specific regulations, it’s best to perform a comprehensive study to determine exactly what contaminants you have in your wastewater. By attacking the problem exhaustively this way, you’ll ensure that whoever comes knocking on your door for an inspection, you won’t have to worry about running into trouble.
How to implement a wastewater treatment system
Once you’ve completed a thorough test of your wastewater and determined which contaminants are in your water, it’s time to formulate a treatment plan. Again, this is where it helps to partner with a specialist, as addressing contaminants on your own can get pretty complicated.
The good news is that with the right know-how and equipment, it’s actually pretty easy to implement solutions for wastewater treatment. Generally speaking, there are two main treatment processes:
- Aerobic treatment in an oxygen-rich environment
- Anaerobic treatment that does not rely on oxygen
Of these two, aerobic treatment tends to be more popular. Two of the most commonly recommended aerobic treatment and reuse technologies include Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor Systems (MBBR) and Membrane Bioreactor Systems (MBR).
Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor Systems are excellent solutions for companies who need help with BOD removal, denitrification, and nitrification. They’re ideal for pretreating organics in wastewater.
Membrane Bioreactor Systems, on the other hand, have a slightly broader application. These systems are ideal solutions for removing BOD and solids, nitrification of ammonia, high quality effluent discharge, and water reuse applications. When it comes to assistance with compliance and regulatory issues, this is usually the way to go.